The Executive Board

The WW-P POC was founded by two impassioned West Windsor-Plainsboro High School students who sought to enact a positive change in their community. Over the past few months, our team has grown tremendously, and we’re excited to work together to ensure the equitable treatment of BIPOC students in and outside of the classroom.

Main Chairs

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DENIA SMITH

Co-founder & Main Chair

EDWARD CRUZ

Main Chair

Denia Smith is an intersectional feminist, political organizer, and high school senior attending Montgomery High School. Growing up in West Windsor, Denia conversed with numerous students and administrators regarding race and racism. Amidst a nationwide call for racial justice, Denia organized a Black Lives Matter march garnering 1,000 attendees and co-founded the POC Advocacy to foster positive race relations in her community. In tandem with her work in the Black Student Union, School Climate and Culture Team, and School Life Committee, Denia was recognized by the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for promoting racial equity. Outside of the POC Advocacy, Denia serves as a Group Leader of Mercer County Students Demand Action, youth researcher at the African American Policy Forum, and Teen Advisor to the United Nation Foundation's Girl Up Campaign. In her free time, Denia runs Track and Field, participates in Model-UN competitions, and volunteers with political campaigns.  

Edward Simon Cruz is a junior at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North. He joined the WW-P POC in September 2020 as a member of its Education Committee before becoming an intern in spring 2021. Edward is also a member of HEAL (Health Encouraging Anti-Stigma League), a student-led organization dedicated to spreading mental health awareness; he has helped to organize webinars for educators and compile resources for local elementary schools. As the News Editor at the Knightly News, his high school’s student newspaper, he co-founded a column exploring race in the community while sharing his own perspectives on the world around him. Edward also serves at his local church and plays for his school’s Quiz Bowl team, and he enjoys reading and watching movies of all genres. He believes that when people come together and use their voices, they can build a society in which everyone can pursue opportunities with resilience and confidence.

Intern 

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RAKIYA HASSAN

Intern 

Rakiya Hassan is a junior at South and a member of the WW-P People of Color Advocacy. Along with being a member of the Executive Board and Education Committee, Rakiya is the co-chair for Campaign Dialogue (South's climate and culture team), the treasurer of the Muslim Student Association, and tech support for her mosque's Weekend School. She is a first-generation Pakistani-American, born to parents from Karachi, Pakistan. A passionate advocate for social justice, Rakiya and enjoys working with her colleagues in the Advocacy to enact real change in our community. In her (scarce) free time, you'll find her swimming, hiking, reading, or doing some impossible combination of all three. She looks forward to continuing her work with the POC Advocacy this year and encourages anyone who wants to make a difference to sign up!

Policy Chairs

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KIRTHI CHIGURUPATI

Policy Chair

Kirthi Chigurupati is a junior at West-Windsor High School North and is honored to be serving as a chair of the policy committee this year! Outside of POC advocacy, Kirthi is involved with Student Council, South-Asian American Student Association, Model Congress, and nonprofit work. She joined WW-P POC to advocate for equity and aid the fight against systematic oppression. She has quickly become immensely inspired by the passion of others in the committee and looks forward to using her extensive political knowledge to increase student involvement and further exposure of underrepresented voices. She feels a great responsibility in this fight lies in the hands of our generation and encourages all who can to join the fight!

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ZAIN ZAIDI

Policy Chair

Zain Zaidi is a sophomore at West Windsor - Plainsboro High School South who is thrilled to be working as a part of WW-P POC as Policy Chair! He's involved with South's SPECTRUM and Muslim Student Association clubs, along with non-profit and volunteer work. Zain has made efforts with the district's administration to put into place gender-neutral bathroom signage across all schools, and foster more productive student-teacher relationships. He is delighted to bring leadership and equity to the table across all schools to empower marginalized students' minds and voices. He is ready to work towards amending inequitable policies and making lives better for all those marginalized, and encourages all to do the same!

Education Chair 

Education Chairs

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TAYLOR ALPHONSO

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ALLISON WU 

Education Chair 

Taylor Alphonso is currently a Senior at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North. She is a member of the POC Advocacy, Girl Scouts Ambassador, the Secretary of the BSU - Shades Club, and a captain for the High School North Mock Trial team. When she is not in meetings or studying, you will most likely find her playing the piano or dancing. Taylor is looking forward to working with other students, teachers, and administration to create a better learning environment for all current students and those who will come after her. Her goal is for herself and the rest of the POC Advocacy to identify, understand, and fight against the discrimination and racism that students face in our schools.

 Allison Wu is currently a Junior at West Windsor Plainsboro High school North. If she’s not in meetings for the POC Advocacy Education Committee, you’ll most likely find her working on school events for student council, advertising for Medforum, researching for Waksman, or volunteering for Knights4Homefront. Allison hopes to contribute to the organization in an impactful way that allows all students to feel comfortable and that they are treated equally by teachers and administration. Her main goal is to help the student body battle racism and bigotry within itself and from others. She also enjoys baking to relieve stress and loves to garden!

Education Chair 

Programming Chairs

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ASHNA GARIKAPATI

Programming Chair

ANANYA TYAGI

Programming Chair

 Ashna is a senior at WW-P High-school South. She loves spending time outdoors and rows for the Mercer Women’s Varsity team. She thoroughly enjoys working with the community as a part of the POC Advocacy, as well as through her roles as the Director of Outreach for the New Jersey chapter of Elevate the Future and as an intern at Vivadox (a local telemedicine startup). Ashna is extremely excited to be working on the executive board of the POC Advocacy because she wants to help broaden the impact and outreach of the organization and make a tangible difference in terms of diversity and inclusivity in WW-P.

Ananya Tyagi is a Sophomore attending West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North. She first realized that problems relating to race were still very prevalent in the summer of 2020 and became a part of WW-P POC to work against racial inequities in her community. Along with being a part of WW-P POC, she is involved in the Princeton Red Cross Youth Council and the HSN Business club. Ananya also serves as a Student Council Class of 2023 Special Assignments Officer and is a girl scout in the Girl Scouts of Central & Southern NJ. In her free time, she could be found playing basketball, volleyball, or trying a new food combination. Ananya is excited to be a part of the WW-P POC Advocacy initiative and hopes that together, we will be able to bring serious and lasting change to and for our community. She is a very approachable person so if you have questions, concerns, feedback, and/or ideas please feel free to reach out!

Alumni Oversight Board

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WILLIAM DORY 

Alumni 

OLIVER ZHONG

Almuni

William Dory is a senior at West Windsor Plainsboro High School North. William Co-Founded the WW-P POC Advocacy Group to promote a more diverse and inclusive education in his community. Through the groups' initiatives, he hopes to resolve the achievement gap for minority BIPOC students. As an active member of his community, William serves as student council Vice President for the Class of 2021, a member of the School Climate and Culture Team, a Student Representative for the African American Parent Support Group, and a Team Lead at his local Parish's Youth Ministry. Suppose he's not doing homework or meeting with the POC Advocacy Group; in that case, you'll find him with his family or on his Peloton Cycling Bike racing towards a new personal record.

Oliver (he/him) is a freshman at Princeton University who is hoping to major in either Economics or Public and International Affairs. He is passionate about improving educational equity through policy change and excited to continue supporting POC Advocacy’s initiatives. Since 7th grade, Oliver has worked with WW-P administrators on a range of topics including student mental health, food waste, and peer tutoring. As an alumnus adviser, he looks forward to applying his experience as a leader and researcher to amplify student voices and ensure that all students are given opportunities to succeed in school.

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ASQUITH CLARKE II

Alumni

Asquith Clarke II (he/him/his) is wrapping up their last year at West Windsor Plainsboro High School North and will be headed to Oberlin College as an incoming freshman. Asquith is also the Co-Leader at Connecting With Humanity, and member of TeenSHARP. Asquith is interested in advocacy and plans to major in Africana Studies at Oberlin College. Asquith wants to be a Truth Teller. What this means to Asquith is embracing and learning about the full history of his ancestors that isn't whitewashed and other marginalized identities. And to use that knowledge to become a better advocate and activist for diverse, inclusive, and equitable education in this country and worldwide. Asquith also wants to advocate for other disparities in the world such as the injustices occurring in immigration policies, environmental sustainability, police brutality, and incarceration. Asquith thinks majoring in Africana studies is a good way in pursuing the knowledge/ career path to making the world a better place in any way he can.